The Wailing (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 8, 2016 by Dennis Amith
Na Hong-jin “The Wailing” is no doubt one of the better, chilling and yet smartly written horror series to come out in the last decade. There is a reason why this film is critically acclaimed, it’s a horror thriller that is unpredictable, chilling but yet very satisfying. And I highly recommend it!
© 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Wailing
YEAR OF FILM: 2016
DURATION: 157 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English and Chinese
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment/20th Century Fox
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Directed by Hong-jin Na
Written by Hong-jin Na
Produced by John Penotti
Cinematography by Kyung-pyo hong
Do-Won Kwak as Jon-Goo
Jun Kunimura as The Stranger
Woo-hee Chun as Moo-Myeong
Jung-min Hwang as Il-Gwang
Kim Hwan-hee as Hyo-jin
In this unbelievably tense supernatural thriller, a foreigner s mysterious appearance in a quiet, rural village causes suspicion among the locals – suspicion which quickly turns to hysteria as the townspeople begin killing each other in brutal outbursts for seemingly no reason. As the investigating officer watches his daughter fall under the same savage spell, he agrees to consult a shaman for answers – unknowingly escalating the situation into something far more dangerous.
Over six years in the making, director Na Hong-jin s meticulously crafted follow-up to the globally acclaimed THE YELLOW SEA and THE CHASER (his third to premiere at the Festival de Cannes) smashed box office records upon its debut in South Korea, where fans are already making return viewings to catch new clues and debate what s sure to be the most talked-about ending of 2016.
From award-winning filmmaker/writer Hong-jin Na (“The Chaser”, “The Yellow Sea”) comes his latest horror thriller film “Goksung” (“The Wailing”).
The film stars Do-won Kwak (“The Man from Nowhere”, “A Company Man”, “The Berlin File”, “Tazza: The Hidden Card”), Jun Kunimura (“Kill Bill” films, “Audition”), Jung-min Hwang (“New World”, “Ode to My Father”, “Veteran”) and Woo-he Chun (“Mother”, “Vampire Idol”, “Han Gong-ju”).
The film has received critical acclaim internationally and now “The Wailing” is available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
The film begins with a shot of a little village (in Korean is translated to “Goksung” and the title of the film) bu the lake up in the mountains of South Korea. We see an older Japan man fishing by the river.
We are introduced to police officer Jong-goo (portrayed by Do-won Kwak) who is called early in the morning of a homicide. Every morning, his mother, wife and child, Hyo-jin (portrayed by Kim Hwan-hee) are often trying to make sure Jong-goo eats well and is there for his family.
When Jong-goo arrives, he sees a family that is bludgeoned and a man that is handcuffed looking terrible with his eyes glowing red. When Jong-goo is disgusted by the sight, he sees a Japanese man looking from the distance.
Not long after, the police are called out into area again and this time they discover a husband and wife who look like they are burned and no longer human and their home burned down. And Jong-goo and other police officers are attacked. As Jong-goo tries to balance the time with his family, especially his daughter but he is spooked by what is happening in the area.
Jong-goo is told by his partner about the story he heard from villagers about a man who discovered a naked man hovering over bodies and eating them. They then see a woman standing outside of their police building scaring both officers. When they go out to look, she’s gone.
Another incident happens with the woman (who’s home being burned down) is found hanging from a tree.
As Jong-goo and a few officers check things out, Jong-goo watches over the burned building and discovers a woman in white named Moo-myeong (portrayed by Chun Woo-hee, the name translates to “no name” in Korean). She tells him to follow her to the burned building and tells him that the Japanese stranger is involved with the deaths. She tells him to be careful and when he calls his superiors that he found a witness, the woman is gone and he discovers the Japanese man going after him. Once again, a nightmare that Jong-goo is having.
When Jong-goo talks to another officer about investigating the Japanese man, a Japanese-speaking priest and translator arrives and they all investigate the stranger’s home int he mountain. While, Jong-goo and the priest try to fight off an angry dog on the premises, the police officer discovers photos of everyone in the village, including Jong-goo and his family and finds Jong-goo’s daughters shoe.
Jong-goo’s family has realized that Hyo-jin is no longer behaving like she usually does, she has become foul-mouthed and talks about killing them.
When Jong-goo confronts his family, his fear is confirmed that she may be possessed. His mother recommends bringing a shaman, meanwhile, Jong-goo feels he must confront the mysterious Japanese man.
Will Hyo-jin be returned to normal? Will Jong-goo stop the murders and deaths happening in the small village?
“The Wailing” is presented in 1080p High Definition. As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality features great detail when it comes to closeups and skintones look natural. Even the mutated humans featured wonderful make-up effects and overall atmosphere to make the film quite chilling.
Picture quality for the most part looks very good with no signs of artifacts or banding issues.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Wailing” is presented in Korean 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film, while primarily dialogue-driven, manages to use sound, environment ambiance to create a chilling, menacing feel throughout the film.
Subtitles are in English.
“The Wailing” comes with the following special features:
- The Beginning of the Wailing – (1:50) A short featurette of why director Na Hong-Jin created “The Wailing”.
- Making Of – (4:55) Featuring the cast and crew discussing the film.
- Theatrical Trailer – The theatrical trailer for “The Wailing”.
Far often, horror films are films that are created to scare the hell out of an audience and then there are those that try to incorporate humor and try to balance a horror film with what one expects from banal slashers.
Once in awhile, you come across a horror film that is actually quite deep and a lot of thought went into the film storyline and the development of its characters.
Award-winning filmmaker Na Hong-jin is one of those filmmakers that continually makes horror films that make you think, one that makes you want to watch it multiple times for better comprehension.
And “The Wailing” is a very deep horror film, enjoyable, terrifying and yet one can be satisfied that they watched a rare and impressive horror film.
The film starts out lighthearted, as police officer Jong-goo, could be seen as a goof ball. Tough at home with his family, kindhearted father always there for his daughter but as a police officer, he’s not brave until he is pushed to the limit when his daughter is possessed and Jong-goo is forced to defend his family.
While horror films in Asia and stories about supernatural or evil forces residing in the mountainous areas, small villages and villagers being possessed are commonplace, what makes “The Wailing” so interesting is how it has Christian overtones, but yet a film’s storyline not really promoting Christianity.
The main character, officer Jong-goo encounters a woman with no-name (Moo-Myeong) who continually warns him.
Dressed in white, seen throwing stones towards Jong-goo which may be inspired by the biblical reference (John 8:7) “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.
If Moo-Myeong is a biblical reference similar to an angel, the Japanese man is reference to being a demon. A man who takes the souls of villagers, but is he a biblical reference to satan? Or is this a subtle reference to how Koreans have felt about Japan because of their bitter history involving Japanese occupation?
And there are other situations especially surrounding other characters which many have posted their theories online. May it be biblical undertones or an even deeper message than filmmaker Na Hong-jin was trying to convey.
Needless to say, the film gives viewers a lot to think about after watching the film.
To see how this film gently builds to a chilling transition is very interesting and in no way, was it even possible to predict this film. Where many horror films are predictable, “The Wailing” bucks the trend of being banal and being a film that wants to scare you,but also wants to be a film that makes you think. It’s a deep horror film and those are words I rarely have used for a horror film review.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and while the majority of the film is dialogue-driven, there are moments of using screams, using thunder, using a shaman’s dance routines to really make the atmosphere quite dark and menacing. The Blu-ray release features a few special features such as “The Beginning of Wailing” and a making of featurette.
Overall, Na Hong-jin “The Wailing” is no doubt one of the better, chilling and yet smartly written horror series to come out in the last decade. There is a reason why this film is critically acclaimed, it’s a horror thriller that is unpredictable, chilling but yet very satisfying. And I highly recommend it!
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